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The Bronx Art Theatre
2131 Boston Road, Bronx, NY
This production opened on September 17, 1936.

 

"A VAYB FAR YEDEN"
(Everybody's Woman)

by Sophie Gaby, music by Harry Schlecker

 

The following review was written by D. Kaplan for the Yiddish Forward newspaper and was published on October 16, 1936. Here it the English translation:


The name is not very elegant -- "Everybody's Woman." The play that's called this is now is being staged in the small "Bronx Art Theatre" on Boston Road and 180th Street. Such an intimate, modest theatre has managed to avoid such non-vibere, and the play also deserves a better name. The theme is noble, truly literary. The subject deals with a serious tragedy in our family life.

The subject, however, is worked out a little too calmly. A subject is like a raw potato: it must be cooked well so that the audience's intellectual taste can feel the right taste in it. But even this uncooked condition in the play is uninteresting and makes a niggling, strong impression.

On the program it is marked as a melodrama. It is, however, not thoroughly a drama. The scope is genuinely dramatic, and the first half approximately consists of more or less natural dramatic actions. In the second half, however, it feels like we have "run out of gas" emotionally. The drama unfolds in melodramatic clouds. The healthy dramatic cores are mixed and thickly covered with dried-out melodramatic bleats.

In today's theatrical productions on our Yiddish stage, very little emphasis is placed on seriousness and endurance. The main purpose is only to amuse the people, no matter how it is achieved -- through songs, dance, hops, tricks. It is therefore foolish to take the story seriously, the flourishing "plot" that is usually used no more than a canvas for the amusing part. But when you see a good dramatic subject, what develops interestingly and covers up a serious situation in a corner of our lives, we would desperately want it to be reduced in the end in a well-defined way.

In "Everybody's Woman" a woman is represented, Esther Simkoff, a widow, who works as a nurse in a hospital to support her two children, an adult girl and a young boy, who is paralyzed in a foot from "infantile paralysis." Her husband committed suicide when business went badly, and he lost his money. His memory is sacred to her. She always praised in him as in a god. Suddenly, however, her "faith" is brutally crushed. She learns from a neighbor that her husband was not at all such a tsatske, not at all such an extraordinarily nice man, as she believed. He did not lose his money at all in business, but he spent it on other women with whom he had "seamy" love.

The neighbor, a very witty woman and of a dubious morality, says to her quite openly: "Since you never wanted to go out with him, you just wanted to sit in the house, he went out with others. Of course I am with you too. He asked me, 'Why not?' ... the quintuplets look set to weaken her strength.

The main role of Esther Simkoff is played by Annie Cherniak, the actress, like the play, like the whole role, is not regular. Several moments, mainly in the first half, she makes a good impression. Many moments, however, are lost in the long monologues, the "prose" piece, which is deleted.

The quintuplets' neighbor is played by Ray Schneyer, and she thoroughly makes a very fine impression of a well-shouldered actress, who does not falsify or exaggerate this unsympathetic role. The role is not big, but from the beginning to the end Miss Schneyer behaves with natural taste and perseverance.

Amd such a secret can not be hidden for a long time.

Dotty's friend, a great-granddaughter of the shrewd neighbor, has been dating him for a year. This boy falls in love with Dotty. A quarrel ensues between Dotty and his friend. She throws in the fact that her mother is in a "haste [hastes]" in a cabaret. I did not believe it, but the telephone number and the radio confirmed it.

This horrible revelation causes a deep upheaval in Esther's heart and brain. Esther once had a hot admirer, Jack, who is now very rich. He has a knack for cabaret and nightclubs. He finds out that Esther is in a very sad situation; she has lost her job as a nurse and has not paid any rent for several months, and he comes to her and offers her a job in one of his nightclubs. She is a good singer. She refrains from such a disgraceful and impure kind of livelihood. But soon after comes the sad revelation about her deceased husband. And her daughter Dotty, a sixteen-year-old girl, complains that all her friends laugh at her, that she wears the same old dress, and that Dotty is willing to go and earn money on such a job for herself. Then Esther decides to accept Jack's proposal.

But no one should know about this, especially the children. She says she got a job as a night nurse. But our world is small, as is the proverb, and with an appealing grace of a successful jest. He deserves kudos for the strong applause he receives.

Also in the role of the farmer he is pleasantly funny and attractive. He and Ella Wallerstein play as the parents of the quintuplets. Until the quintuplets, she does not play badly a certain character role of a woman with a gossip trigger and an answering language ...

Esther comes running home, and Dotty, who not long ago wanted to take such a job herself in a cabaret, presents the mother with a job. It does not help Esther's claims that she did this for her sake, that she should have dresses and other things, like all her friends. Dotty escapes from house.

But it all ends in peace.

The boy, Dotty's beloved, seeks her out and brings her to his mother.

The production also doesn't have a lot of cheerful, funny scenes and, as is usual, songs and dances. There is also an amusing applause from the wealthy fivesome, the "Dionne quintuplets." A Jewish farmer from the Catskills, who the wife has discarded because "he was not adequate"; he lived with her for ten years and they had no children. He married a widow who already had three husbands, and -- the first resulted in quintuplets. The world turns. He besieges them from all sides. The prominent lights come to them. The farmer was sprinkled with vinegar and honey, with five medals on his vest. The stage is lively and cheerful, and the audience stays on the side of fun and laughter.

The great "hit" is made with a song by Jacob Birenberg, who indeed plays the role of the farmer. The song, "Ameritshke, bizt olrayt," consists of a kind of chatshke, which is strengthened from various types, types and ridiculous sides of American Jewish life. These are amusing episodes that Birenberg presents with a genuinely warm, pleasant cheerfulness, and ...

Not bad at all, with warmth and felling, Bennie Zeidman plays Morris, Esther's cousin, who revolves around his whole life with a hidden feeling of adoration and love for Esther, and at the end his ideal is realized.

 




With Lois and Larry Gilbert as the young song-and-dance pair, who is an unavoidable attraction in all of today's theatre shows. Miss Louis possesses the necessary virtue for a successful soubrette -- a young, beautiful girl, with a ringing voice and entirely fine dance. However, Gilbert is better as a dancer ...

Jack, the cabaret owner, is played by Sigmund Zuckerberg. Leah, Dotty's friend, is played by Lili Schechter. Sam, Esther's paralyzed friend, is played by Jerry Rosenberg.

 

 

 

 

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